I hope you’re enjoying the lovely weather and will take the opportunity to enjoy tomorrow’s Heritage Open Day at the Canalside Centre in Beeston Rylands and on Sunday visit the Chapel on the Hill in Kimberley; details of both events are in the diary section.
I have some snippets of news and some thoughts on how we might improve local democracy.
Have a great weekend.
As ever, Anna
Car Store threatened with closure
I have contacted Pendragon the owners of the Car Store (formerly Evans Halshaw) on Nottingham Road in Chilwell Meadows, following the news they are closing 22 of their sites. The Car Store recently submitted plans to ensure delivery lorries use the Nottingham Road access after longstanding complaints they were using the entrance on Ranson Road causing serious inconvenience to residents. You may recall my work helping local people on this issue.
Pendragon is Nottinghamshire’s second biggest employer and blames pre-tax loses of £32.2 million on Brexit.
I make no further comment other than I very much hope the site in Chilwell Meadows remains open and the planning application is passed. I will let you know as soon as I have any news.
Cossall Parish Council and local democracy
I was very pleased to attend Cossall Parish Council’s monthly meeting on Tuesday evening. With newly elected Parish and Town Councils up and running I am in the process of meeting with them all.
Cossall had a list of concerns (primarily for Nottinghamshire County Council) notably the longstanding request for a sign between the village and Trowell, action to stop large HGV’s coming through Cossall and the maintenance of numerous footpaths. I have already raised all these matters with the relevant lead Councillor and officers at the County.
Parish and Town Councils are the most immediate and accessible part of our democracy often dealing with the seemingly trivial but actually very important details of our everyday lives. There are few things more frustrating than an uncut verge, signs left long after road works have been completed and lorry drivers flouting clear signs. It’s all too easy to blame “the Council” and not surprisingly that disaffection with politicians and government is at an all time low. This feeling that no-one cares and that individuals have little if any say over their lives and communities is at the root of many of our country’s problems.
Our Parish and Town Councils have very few powers or control over really local matters – like the cutting of a path or verge – and are in danger of becoming little more than lobbying groups to the Borough and County Councils.
I am of the view that we need radical reform of the way we do local government in our county. I have long supported giving our town and parish councils more power and more agility at raising money for their local work. I would abolish the Borough and District Councils and make sure that our County Council had the resources it needs in particular to carry out its Social Care duties and provide full services for children, young people, and families in need. Scrapping the Boroughs and Districts would free up millions of pounds for the County. Beefing up our Towns and Parishes would put power back in local hands.
Like all our Parish and Town Councils, Cossall has a fine team of Councillors dedicated to their community. They and the people they serve deserve more control over the public places and spaces so valued by their communities. It’s an argument I will keep on developing and making and if we ever get through the Brexit crisis, I will take to Parliament and to Ministers
I had a very good meeting with members of the East Midlands Chamber of Commerce this morning – most have businesses or enterprises based in the Nottingham area. Needless to say there was much talk about Brexit with businesses adversely affected by the uncertainty surrounding the matter. We also discussed the skills shortage and deep rooted problems with the current apprenticeship scheme. I am aware of a number of serious flaws thanks to local businesses contacting me with their complaints and I am pleased I was able to persuade the Government to make some changes to the scheme.
We also discussed HS2 following the Government’s announcement of a review of the project. I share my views below.
There is considerable concern about whether the Government will abandon HS2 and in particular the planned route through Broxtowe linking Birmingham to Leeds. The Hub at Toton Sidings has considerable cross party support in Broxtowe and indeed throughout the Nottingham and Derby area.
I make no apologies for being a strong supporter of HS2 which will not only increase capacity (a new line linking up some of our great cities like Leeds, Birmingham, Manchester and London) but also provide a world class business park at the Sidings. The new businesses there will provide well paid, skilled jobs for local people. At the moment HS2 is being championed by business leaders and politicians but I think there should be a wider group of constituents making the case for HS2.
Please let me now if you are interested in being part of an HS2 support group.